Candide by Voltaire

I loved Candide by Voltaire! It is such a brilliant satire on the ideas observed through the glass of rosy eyed philosophy. “All is for the best in the best of all possible worlds”!!!

Candide, a young fellow, believes that whatever happens is for the best, courtesy his tutor Dr. Pangloss. The writing covers a number of unfavorable happenings and incidents, which should have been sufficient enough to let him abandon the colored glasses. But voila! Our man Candide is one optimist! He continues believing even through all the misfortunes in life. Nothing, not even the greatest follies of mankind like injustice, greed, apathy can shake his belief. In search of his beloved, Lady Cunegonde, he faces one trouble after another; at each step believing the philosophy to be true for he believes that he will be happy after he reunites with the love of his life. After many misadventures, he finally reunites with the Lady only to find that he doesn’t love her that much. (view spoiler) Still, Candide goes ahead and marries her to keep his promise, but he realizes that he hasn’t been happy at all.

So, where do we get from here?

Voltaire’s work is not only a satire on the times he lived in but can also be seen as a mirror to the modern societies where similar beliefs still find a strong foothold. It made me contemplate how still the religious or ideological conditioning can play a larger role in the underdevelopment of minds, thereby restricting rational thinking. It is further astonishing to witness the influence such ideas can exercise, if they are bestowed regularly with zest on a naive mind. (view spoiler) Religious fanaticism is one of the examples where such conditioning can bring about discord in the societies. And more than this, an individual, accepting such ideology, stands in danger of coming face to face with a sense of utter despair or worthlessness at the mere hint of failure of the long held ideas.

So, what can be a solution to this? In this work, Voltaire suggests hard work i.e. labor for people to find happiness in life. He opines that labor holds off three great evils: tedium, vice and poverty, making life more supportable. I do agree with him. Along with this I also believe that younger minds should be encouraged to question and analyse the ideas presented to them, so that what they exercise are not mere vague ideas but beliefs which can sturdily stand the test of the times.

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